Guide to Choosing Hearing Aids
Buying a hearing aid is a big investment, emotionally and financially. There are so many hearing aids on the market it can be difficult to know where to begin. We agree with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, “choosing the right hearing aid and provider can be difficult” and “you can protect yourself by being a smart shopper.” Hearing and Audiology has helped thousands of people find the right hearing aid for them. With over 30 years’ experience we know what the most important factors are when choosing a hearing aid. Let us share our knowledge with you.
Our number one tip when choosing a hearing aid is to remember why you are buying the aid. Ultimately the reason we treat hearing loss is to improve people’s quality of life. Time and again we have patients tell us they cannot believe the difference hearing aids have made to their happiness and the happiness of those around them. Keep this front of mind when choosing a hearing aid.
The big mistake people make when choosing a hearing aid is believing that a hearing aid is the complete solution. Up to 20% of people who buy hearing aids don’t end up using them because they never received the right information or support. The reality is a hearing aid is a tool used to treat hearing loss, and only forms part of a hearing rehabilitation plan.
A hearing aid’s effectiveness depends on:
- the right aid being recommended for the type and degree of hearing loss, and the unique needs of each patient
- the right support from trained professionals
- the patient’s understanding of their role in adapting to and using hearing aids
For these reasons, who you buy a hearing aid from is just as important as the hearing aid you choose. There are some simple ways of ensuring you get the right advice.
1. See an independent audiologist to have your hearing tested.
Independent audiologists are university trained allied health professionals. They do not work on commission so their only priority is what is best for you. They are not associated with a single hearing aid company so they stock a large range of manufacturers, giving you more choice. They will use your hearing test results to determine what hearing aids suit your needs and budget. They will only ever recommend a hearing aid when it is clinically indicated.
Hearing and Audiology are proudly independent. We will only ever sell you a hearing aid if we have assessed you so we know you are getting the right hearing aid for your needs and budget. Just like a doctor wouldn’t write you a script without seeing you, we will not sell you a hearing aid without assessing you. Once we have assessed your hearing and discussed your personal needs we will show you what hearing aids are appropriate. We stock hearing aids from all the major global hearing aid manufacturers, including Phonak, Unitron, Oticon, Widex, Starkey and Siemens/Signia (owned by Sivantos).
If you are not sure if your audiologist is independent ask them – Do you work on commission? Is your clinic owned by a hearing aid company? Or you can look on Independent Audiologists Australia’s website to find a list of independent audiologists.
A warning sign that your audiologist is working on commission is free hearing screenings. The company has to make money somehow, don’t let it be by selling you a more expensive hearing aid than you need or can afford. Paying for an independent hearing test can save you a lot of money.
2. Ask about what else your hearing loss treatment will involve.
Hearing loss treatments should include more than just purchasing hearing aids. Effective hearing loss treatments should include a hearing rehabilitation plan, where you are an active participant. You should be given strategies to hear better in situations that you find challenging and counselling on how to adapt to hearing aids. Your hearing aid should be tuned to match your exact hearing loss when you are fitted. The aids settings should also be checked and readjusted by an audiologist in the first few months. This is because the brain changes in response to wearing a hearing aid, meaning hearing thresholds often change when hearing aids are introduced. The effectiveness of your hearing aid is hugely influenced by the support you receive, and the understanding you have of your role in hearing loss treatment. You should make sure you are working with a hearing professional you trust.
Hearing and Audiology only uses evidence-based hearing loss treatments. When we followed up with clients 3 months after the fitting of a hearing aid 97% of clients were using their hearing aids, and 100% were satisfied with the support they received. We treat every client as an individual and work with you to make sure you receive the best care possible.
We strongly warn against purchasing hearing aids online.
You will not receive the support you need in order to maximise the effectiveness of your hearing aids. Hearing aids bought online can also have much shorter warranties – often 1 year instead of 3 years. Their software can also be incompatible with Australian hearing aids, which means having them adjusted and re-tuned can be very difficult and expensive. Hearing aids are precision instruments, and having them set incorrectly will seriously reduce their effectiveness. All major hearing aid manufacturers only authorize sale of their aids through hearing clinics because they know the importance of supporting treatments. Be aware that there are risks involved in buying hearing aids online.
When you are choosing a hearing aid remember the ultimate goal is better hearing, and this is not just dependent on the hearing aid you choose, but also the support you receive before and after. Find someone you trust and who has a proven record of successfully treating hearing loss.
3. Consider what is most important to you when choosing a hearing aid.
There are a huge number of aids available these days. They all have different strengths and weaknesses, and are designed for different needs and budgets. Consider what features of a hearing aid are most important to you before your hearing appointment.
We recommend you consider the following things:
1. How important is appearance?
Hearing aids come in a range of styles. The suitability of a style is often dependent on the degree of your hearing loss. Normally, the more severe your hearing loss, the more power is required. Technology has improved vastly, and hearing aids are now more discrete and powerful than ever, but sometimes there may need to be a trade-off between power and appearance. An audiologist will work with you to find the style and type of hearing aid which best matches both your hearing loss and the importance you place on appearance. You can find out more about styles of hearing aid and the brands Hearing and Audiology stocks here.
2. In what situations do you most want to hear better?
Hearing aids come with different features and settings. Some are specially designed for workplaces and meetings; some are designed for everyday use. Not all hearing aids will be able to help in every situation. Knowing which situations you most want help from a hearing aid in will help you narrow down what hearing aid is right for you.
We recommend you think about the situations where you have difficulty hearing and put those situations in order, from most important to hear better, to least important. You can use our hearing satisfaction questionnaire to do this. Use this list to make sure the hearing aid you choose has the right features for you, and you don’t pay more for features you don’t need.
3. Do you have any special requirements?
Hearing aids are also designed for different special requirements, including:
- people with active lifestyles
- people who want their hearing aid connected to technology like smartphones and computers
- people with limited dexterity
- people with vision impairments
- people with cognitive impairments
We stock hearing aids that have features which suit each of these needs, for example the Lyric Hearing Aid is perfect for active lifestyles, as it sits in the ear and remains in place 24/7 for months at a time.
If you have any of these needs make sure you let the audiologist know. They can discuss with you how different aids might be more suitable depending on your requirements.
4. What are you comfortable spending on a hearing aid?
When you know how important appearance is, what situations you want to hear better in, and any special requirements you may have you will have a better idea of what aids are likely to cost. The top of the range hearing aids tend to have more features and specialised settings, and be more discrete. Knowing what is a priority for you will help you decide your budget, and not spend more than you need to.
We also recommend finding out what rebates or services you might be eligible for before choosing a hearing aid.
Australian Pensioners and Veterans are eligible for free hearing aids through the Hearing Services Program. Hearing and Audiology can provide these hearing aids. Please call us with your Pensioner Card handy and we can check your eligibility over the phone. There is the option of upgrading your hearing aids if you choose, but this is up to you. Upgrading your hearing aids does have an associated cost, but it will give you additional features which may be important to you. We are always happy to discuss this option with you, and will never sell you a hearing aid that is beyond your budget.
If you have private health insurance you might be eligible for a rebate on hearing aids. We recommend contacting your health insurance provider directly and asking them what rebates are available on your plan before your hearing appointment. If you are eligible for a rebate on hearing aids you are entitled to that rebate, no matter who you buy your hearing aids from.
Hearing and Audiology stocks a wide range of hearing aids from all major hearing aid manufacturers,including Phonak, Unitron, Oticon, Widex, Starkey and Siemens/Signia (owned by Sivantos). We will work with you to find hearing aids that are within your budget and suit your hearing needs. In special circumstances, decided according to need, payment plans are available. We cannot give you a quote for hearing aids over the phone, as the specific aid you require will depend on your hearing test results and hearing needs. We do not want to sell you a hearing aid which might not be suitable for your hearing loss or be more expensive than you require. We are committed to making hearing aids as affordable as possible as we believe the life changing effects of hearing aids should be accessible to anyone with a hearing loss.
After you have discussed what hearing aids are suitable for your individual needs with an audiologist, take some time to consider your budget and make sure you are comfortable with the amount you are spending. Don’t be rushed into a decision and make sure you understand what features you are getting and why you need them.
Hearing and Audiology won’t rush you into a decision about hearing aids. When you have selected a hearing aid that suits your needs and budget we will let you trial the hearing aids at home, free of charge. We then discuss your experience at a follow up appointment and make sure you are still comfortable with the aids you have selected. We are always happy to answer questions and take the time needed to make sure you make the decision that is best for you.
Hearing aids are big investments, but their benefits are enormous. In fact, hearing aids are considered one of the most cost effective ways to improve your overall health. We hope that this guide helps you choose the right hearing aid so you can get back to hearing what matters most to you.
What to do next?
Book a Hearing Assessment Online or call (08) 9388 8003 to begin your hearing journey. We have hearing clinics in Perth, located in Subiaco and Duncraig, and in Geraldton.
Find out more information on Hearing Aids:
Types, styles and brands
Invisible Hearing Aids
Tips and troubleshooting for hearing aid users
Repairs, adjustments and parts
Funding and finance
Donate your old hearing aids
Hearing Aid FAQs
Find out more information on Hearing Loss.
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Book an Appointment Today
For more information about our hearing healthcare services, please call (08) 9388 8003 or book online using the form below. We conduct hearing tests at our Perth based clinics, located in Subiaco and Duncraig, as well as at our Geraldton clinic.